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Curator’s Note: Never a Failed Attempt


Clarion Vol 6: Gordon Matta-Clark & Pope.L: Impossible Failures

Ebony L. Haynes

Curator’s Note: Never a Failed Attempt

P7 325 Words 1 Note 2mins


In his book Hole Theory, Pope.L writes, “[LACK IS WHERE IT’S AT],” which I have been thinking about from many angles for many years. The idea to pair Pope.L’s work with Gordon Matta-Clark’s started with the concept of holes and a genuine appreciation for their practices that circle the void.

In his work, Pope.L asks if anything can truly be a void—voluntarily or not, we fill in or make meaning, essentially negating the presence of absence. When I asked Pope.L to participate in this show, our early conversations were preoccupied by the absence of Matta-Clark himself. Pope.L continually challenged the idea of uniting two artists when one is present to make new work, to position or reposition existing work, to guide or weigh in on decisions, but the other is not. Pope.L began his artistic career in the mid-1970s and performed his Times Square Crawl the year of Matta-Clark’s death, in 1978. There isn’t, in a sense, a conclusion to this pairing—the conversation is open-ended, akin to the gaps the work engages.

 In Impossible Failures, 52 Walker’s sixth exhibition and first two-person show, Pope.L’s Failure Drawings, which he makes on found materials while in transit, are joined with Matta-Clark’s conceptual sketches, which he referred to as “impossible ideas.” Mining architecture, language, institutions, scale, and perceptions of value, Pope.L’s and Matta-Clark’s work takes on various forms, encompassing performance, film, drawing, and architectural interventions, that are highly dependent on place and space. A major focus of Matta-Clark’s work was making intentional cuts into existing architectural structures, holes or gaps that allow for looking in and out. So in the gallery space, we incised two holes in the walls, one that permitted visitors to peer into a space accessible only to staff, and another that allowed a visual exchange between inside and outside the gallery, with Matta-Clark’s Bingo X Ninths projected on the wall where you entered and exited the space.

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